Pennsylvania regulators approve policy statement involving EV charging

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Nov. 8 said that it voted 5-0 to approve a final policy statement that clarifies that third-party electric vehicle (EV) charging is providing a service and not considered resale/redistribution under Section 1313 of the Public Utility Code.

The policy statement also directs electric distribution companies (EDCs) to amend their tariffs to address third-party EV charging tariff provisions consistent with the new policy, the commission said.

According to the final policy statement order, the commission issued a proposed policy statement in the docket (M-2017-2604382) in May. The proposed policy statement was designed to reduce regulatory uncertainty surrounding the operation of EV charging stations, thereby promoting increased investment in EV charging infrastructure in Pennsylvania. The order added that the policy statement would reduce regulatory uncertainty by:

  • Making clear that it is the policy of the commission that the service provided by an EV charging facility open to the public for the sole purpose of recharging an EV battery should not be construed as a sale of electricity to a residential consumer
  • Requiring that EDCs expressly address EV charging stations in their tariffs

“By this order, the commission adopts the policy statement on third party electric vehicle charging – resale/redistribution of utility service tariff provisions contained in the annex to this order,” the commission said in its order.

Discussing the procedural history, the commission noted that given the continued growth in the number of EVs registered in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, the need for EV charging stations will continue to grow as well. The commission said that it recognized that the resale/redistribution of electricity by third party EV charging stations in Pennsylvania is governed primarily by EDC tariff provisions; however, the commission also recognized that most EDCs tariffs do not expressly address EV charging stations.

To support increased investment in EV charging infrastructure, the commission found it necessary to take steps to reduce any regulatory uncertainty surrounding the operation of EV charging stations.

The commission added that recognizing that questions exist regarding the impact of Section 1313 of the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa. C.S. § 1313 – relating to price upon resale of public utility service – and the EDC resale/redistribution tariff provisions on third party EV charging stations, as well as given the increasing need for those stations, the commission was concerned that regulatory uncertainty would limit the number of operators willing to enter the Pennsylvania market.

As such, the commission in June 2017 issued a secretarial letter seeking comments on such topics as:

  • What restrictions, if any, each EDC’s existing tariff places on the resale/redistribution of electric power by third party EV charging
  • The advantages and disadvantages of specific tariff provisions permitting unrestricted resale/redistribution of electric power when done for the purpose of third party EV charging

Comments on the secretarial letter were received from numerous interested parties, with most commenters agreeing on three main points:

  • That EV charging stations should not be subject to Section 1313 because they are providing a service, not reselling/redistributing electricity
  • That the various EDC resale/redistribution tariff provisions create uncertainty and inconsistency throughout the state
  • That eliminating such regulatory uncertainty is a necessary step to encourage the development of EV charging station infrastructure

The commission added that commenters generally agreed that as part of the effort to alleviate regulatory uncertainty, EDCs should be encouraged to adopt tariff provisions expressly addressing third party EV charging stations, including provisions requiring EV charging station operators to notify the appropriate EDC in advance of the construction of an EV charging station to allow the EDC an opportunity to assess the impact of the additional load and take any necessary remedial action.

While there were areas of disagreement among commenters – including whether there should be tariff-based restrictions on third party EV charging stations at all – the commission said that based on a review of the comments, it made certain conclusions, including that there is a lack of clarity as to the resale/redistribution restrictions applicable to third party EV charging stations under EDC tariffs and under Section 1313 of the Public Utility Code.

The proposed policy statement consists of two sections:

  • One section makes clear the commission’s policy that a third party – any entity other than public utility – owning and operating an EV charging facility that is open to the public for the sole purpose of recharging an EV battery should not be construed to be a sale to a residential consumer and should therefore not fall under the pricing requirements of Section 1313
  • The other section requires EDCs to address, at a minimum, two issues relating to EV charging facilities in their tariffs – reflect the statement of law in Section 1313, along with the commission’s policy to exclude third party EV charging stations from the pricing requirements of Section 1313; and rules for when and how owners and operators of such third party EV charging stations are to notify the EDC of a planned installation of the EV charging facilities and for what information the EDC will need in advance

Among other things, the commission said that it will make minor changes to Section 69.3501(b) of the policy statement to make the statement more concise. The commission said that it will:

  • Add language to make clear that the policy statement applies to “electricity sales by” an entity “for compensation”
  • Remove “electric cooperative corporation, municipal authority, or municipal corporation” to make clear that the policy statement applies to any third party entity – that is, any entity that is not a regulated “public utility”
  • For plural subject agreement, change “a sale to a residential consumer” to “sales to residential consumers”

The commission said that each EDC should file a tariff amendment to address third party EV charging consistent with the policy statement after the policy statement’s publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3059 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.